Pastor Brad the Hunter/Dog Trainer?

From the years of 1995 to 2003 my favorite hobby and small business revolved around the bloodlines, behaviors and performance of UKC and PKC bred Bluetick Hounds. I love it. And I felt good at it.

In fact, I bred, raised and trained 4 dogs that would go on to become UKC Grand Night Champions. Several others became Grand Show Champions. I also had the pleasure of handling some of the best dogs in the world… owned by other kennels.

It was so much fun.

I saw three of my good friends win world titles. And even had the chance to defeat a few of those world champion dogs in friendly casual hunts between buddies.

The photos and memories of those days come up often when I’m having a down day or need a reminiscent memory to brighten my spirits.

I gave all that up when the combination of parenting, marriage, church planting and completing my doctorate simply didn’t leave enough time to thrive.

In giving it up, I sent my dogs to other kennels, sold my equipment and cancelled my club memberships. I quit cold turkey.

And, for the most part, I have been just fine without that in my life. I mean, I love my wife and kids more than I can imagine. Its indescribable. And I have other hobbies that have helped me to deal with stress and focus.

Since that time, all of my dogs have passed away. Most of their puppies are gone as well. A lot changes in the dog training world in 10 years.

But today something changed.

I adopted two young hounds. (They are adorable, but not the ones pictured above…) And they may not be the most well bred dogs that I grew accustomed to working with in the past. But I really like them.

They both came from kill shelters in Western Kentucky. And obviously… someone thought they weren’t worth training and dropped them off as strays.

But I’m looking forward to spending some time with them.

I don’t know if either of them will ever turn into a great hunting dog. But we sure are going to try.

And hopefully, my sons will assist me in the training.

So they will learn the ins and outs of teaching dogs how to do what they need to know how to do in order to be successful.

I have joked in the past that training dogs made me a better father and pastor. (Although dogs are much easier to work with than either children or church members… lol)

I hope that some of those lessons rub off on my boys in the process.

I’m reminded of a quote from my favorite book that I read as a child, “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

“It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.”
– Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows, Ch. 1

I want so badly to walk with my sons through the lessons of life. I want to help them understand life and death, victory and defeat, disappointment and elated excitement. This just may be one way we get to journey that road together.